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Flood response

Flooded homes mean misery. No magic formula can undo the damage caused by floods. The anxiety, loss and tedious waiting have to be endured, as best you can, with the support of those around you.

These photo-based activities encourage students to think about the practical and emotional impact of floods. Use the discussion ideas to develop techniques and confidence to deal with a crisis.

By the end of this activity students will be able to:

  • Imagine and describe the likely thoughts and feelings of people evacuated from their flooded homes and those of the emergency teams who assisted them.
  • Recognise the stresses and strains of living in someone else's household and identify practical ways to make that life easier.

The photograph shows a crew from Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) helping residents leave their flooded homes in Walton-on-Thames.

Ask young people to look at the picture and try to imagine being there. It is raining. Note how those in the boat are hunched against the rain and cold. What does it smell like? What about the noise - is it unusually quiet, perhaps, as there is no traffic? Or perhaps there are alarms going off. Imagine how the boat moves and how you have to keep adjusting your balance.

Pause and imagine. Close your eyes if it helps. How easy is it to feel as though you are on that rescue boat?

Discuss what those on-board might be thinking. How might they be feeling?

The rescue workers are in control, experienced and trained. But they may have been working long shifts and be physically and emotionally tired. What could they be thinking and feeling?

Working in groups, pairs or individually, ask students to write some captions or speech bubbles showing what those in the picture might be thinking about. If a structure is helpful, ask students to select someone in the photograph and complete one or more of the following sentences in the voice of that person:

  • "I'm glad that...."
  • "I hope that....."
  • "I'm worried that...."

Note: Students may be critical of people who need rescuing. Point out that the emergency services would not share that criticism. Here are two reasons:

  • Humanitarian help is based on need. It is non-judgemental. When someone is in need, you assess the situation and, if it is safe and you are able, you provide the help that makes a difference - without thinking about cause or blame.
  • No one knows the circumstances of any individual or household. People may have stayed behind for physical or emotional reasons, to help or persuade others, or because they didn't fully realise what was happening.

Reflect on what might have delayed someone's evacuation. Encourage students to appreciate the unfairness of judging other people's actions and decisions.

A home from home

Now imagine your house is flooded. Where do you go? You might spend a night in a rest centre organised by the council.

Then where do you go? It might be a hotel, or bed and breakfast. Many people go to stay with friends or family. Which of these would students personally prefer?

What if it were longer than a couple of days? Some people may be out of their homes for many months, years even. What is the best option then?

Talk about the strain of living in another household. What could young people personally do to make it better - for themselves and others?


Children's feelings


Children leave a flooded home on February 12 2014 in Staines United Kingdom© Info

Use this picture in the same way as the main activity - drawing captions and speech bubbles to describe what the children might be thinking.

See the close-ups in the powerpoint for a clearer view. There's part of a third person in the shot.  What might that person be saying?

As you explore different attitudes to floods, discuss the emotional upset as well as the practical problems. Try the classroom activity in the emotional support teacher briefing.


Like a jail

"It's like a jail. It's so boring," said one young person about the hotel he had to stay in after the floods. Invite students to describe how evacuations can be hard for young people - reduced privacy and personal space, missed school and lost contact with friends, perhaps.

Imagine you're away from home and damaged your phone. Could you contact friends on a borrowed phone? Discuss the advantages of always having your key numbers stored separately. Then do it.

C4 news interviewed children for their views on the floods. View the video here. Note: there are oaths and strong language around 6:37.


Choices in a crisis

Coping in an emergency usually involves a lot of choices. Stay or go? Go where? What to take? Who to contact? What to do first?

Ask students to imagine and develop a narrative for a household facing a flood. Map out the choices they make from first hearing a red alert flood warning to getting to a safe place to plan the recovery.

For inspiration see an ambitious project developed by 14-year-old Morgan Spence and the British Red Cross - the Disaster Island Lego film. Find out more here.


This resource was written by PJ White of alt62 and published in March 2014. 

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